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The effects of gum disease on your overall health

Gum disease is a very common condition where the gums become swollen and infected. Mild gum disease or gingivitis is reversible and can be treated to stop it from developing further into periodontitis, which is untreatable.

Most people will suffer from some form of gum disease in their adult life. It’s a major cause of tooth loss in the UK. Gingivitis is caused by the build-up of plaque on and around the teeth. Gum disease is entirely preventable. By spending time each day on keeping your oral health routine up and your mouth clean you will reduce your risk of developing gum disease.

Gum disease has been linked to causing or increasing your chance of developing other health complications:

Breast Cancer

Research shows that women who suffer from gum disease may be three times more likely to develop breast cancer.

Researchers believe this link could support the theory that breast cancer could be triggered as the result of a systemic inflammation which originates in the infected gums. They also suggest that bacteria from the mouth may enter the circulatory system through the gums which then may affect breast tissue.

Alzheimer’s disease

Research has suggested that suffering from periodontitis can significantly increase your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease. The research behind this suggests that bacteria from the gums can enter the bloodstream. This happens through everyday activities such as eating, chewing and tooth brushing. The bacteria can then enter other parts of the body, including the brain.

Once the bacteria reach the brain, they may trigger an immune system response, killing brain cells. This immune response could be one mechanism that leads to changes in the brain, which is typical in Alzheimer’s disease.

Heart disease

People with periodontal disease are twice as likely to develop heart disease, with that increasing for those with high cholesterol.

As with Alzheimer’s disease, scientists believe the increased chance of developing the disease is due to the same bacteria.

Gum disease has been linked to other health problems such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, explains: “The link between oral health and overall body health is well documented and backed by robust scientific evidence. Despite this, only one in six people realise that people with gum disease may have an increased risk of stroke or diabetes. And only one in three is aware of the heart disease link.”

Gum disease can be managed and treated effectively if caught early enough. During dental check-ups, your dentist will check the health of your gums and advise you on any necessary treatment.

For more information on the prevention and treatment of gum disease, click here or contact Regent Dental Centre on 0161 941 2143.

Website last updated: July 2022

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